A popular trail ride close to town is along the west rim of the Rio Grande Gorge, either from the suspension bridge up to John Dunn Bridge, about 15 miles round-trip, or from the suspension bridge south to the Taos Junction bridge near Pilar, about 18 miles out and back. Either way, you’ll have great views and fairly level but rugged terrain.
A more aggressive ride is the 22-mile South Boundary Trail. Native Sons Adventures (1033-A Paseo del Pueblo Sur, 575/758-9342, www.nativesonsadventures.com) can provide maps and shuttle service to and from trailheads. It also runs half- and full-day tours to these and several other trails, as well as hiker-biker combo trips.
If you prefer road touring, you can make a pleasant loop from Taos through Arroyo Hondo and Arroyo Seco. The 25-mile route has no steep grades and is a good way to get adjusted to the altitude. Head north up Paseo del Pueblo Norte, straight through the intersection with Highway 150 and then turn right in Arroyo Hondo onto County Road B-143; this road winds up into Arroyo Seco, eventually dead-ending on Highway 230. Turn right, and you’ll merge with Highway 150 in a couple of miles.
The standard challenge is the 84-mile Enchanted Circle loop; every September sees the Enchanted Circle Century Bike Tour, sponsored by the Red River chamber of commerce (800/348-6444 for information). A mountain-biking race takes place the day after.
Gearing Up (129 Paseo del Pueblo Sur, 575/751-0365, 9:30 a.m.–6 p.m. daily) rents mountain and hybrid bicycles (complete with helmet, backpack, lock, and even a water bottle) for $35 per day, with discounts for longer terms. The bike-fanatic couple who own the shop are very knowledgeable and can point you to less-traveled roads and trails. If you’re bringing your bicycle with you, consider having it shipped here, and they’ll reassemble it and have it waiting when you arrive.
© Zora O'Neill from Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, 2nd edition